As a Certified Financial Planner™, whenever I even mention the word “investment”, people are way too eager to ask about “stocks/equities”, “bonds”, and “funds/unit trusts”, thinking that these are the best, sure-fire way to financial security and financial freedom. But they are always surprised when I instead mentioned CPF. Although most people think CPF is a retirement tool, I’d like to think of CPF as an investment tool. What other investment is low-risk (or virtually no-risk) and has a guaranteed return of 2.5% up to 6%? What other investment is adjusted for inflation, is commission-free, is out of reach by creditors, and has an annuity payout that you cannot outlive? To learn more about CPF, please visit the CPF website. (more…)
Every week, there are tons of “free” seminars in Singapore on topics such as wealth creation, investing, properties, starting online businesses, stock picking, or other passive income generating techniques. Nearly all these seminars follow the same formula. Here’s what they have in common: (more…)
People seek the advice of financial planners because they want to make better financial decisions and improve their financial situation. But I believe the most important decision they make is whom they engage to be their financial planner. Some may seek a financial planner based on a friend’s recommendation, but if you don’t personally know someone in the industry, it’s easy to fall into the trap of choosing a person who “looks like a million bucks” thinking that they will be your best bet. Why is this a very bad idea? (more…)
It seems that everywhere you look, there’s some guy hosting a free seminar who’s going to divulge the latest secrets on how to pick winning stocks and other too-good-to-be-true tactics. Sometimes these talks are hosted by financial services companies like RHBInvest and Phillip Capital, or by notable experts in the field, like Mark Lin and Nicholas Tan. Other seminars are held by financial education companies, like Wealth Mentors, where much of what they teach could be found in a good book (free, from the library). As a former financial educator who was not tied to an investment company or to selling certain products (and therefore, I had absolutely no conflicts of interest), I can honestly say that for the vast majority of people, all these seminars are really “barking up the wrong tree.” These are what I found that the vast majority of people need to invest in: (more…)
When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong listed the various ways in which a “cash poor” senior can get extra income from his/her home in retirement, he said, “It is better if you keep your property. Even if you rent out the whole flat, it does not matter, it is yours, and you can fall back on it for your old age, just in case anything happens.” I disagree, though I understand and appreciate where he’s coming from. He’s worried that many people who end up selling and cashing out their property would not be able to appropriately ration the lump sum earnings and make their windfall last throughout the remainder of their lifetime. This is why he put constraints on taking lump sum withdrawals of one’s CPF. Additionally, owning a home provides some assurance that you will have shelter, which is a basic need. But in the case of selling your own property, I believe if you are prudent with your money (perhaps you can buy an annuity with the proceeds, or just keep it liquid in an account), the option to cash out your property should be a viable consideration for seniors.
There have been many articles and blogs lately about the fairness and viability of the Singapore CPF. As a new PR to Singapore, I know that I have much more to learn and understand on this topic; in no way do I claim to be an expert in it. But I am quite familiar with the US Social Security scheme, its current status and future viability. Since one blogger in particular has compared the two retirement schemes, skewing his findings in favor of these western schemes, I would like to shed some light on some of the “heart truths” about the US Social Security system (all backed by references, of course).